Initial Scenario Environment, UI Update, Scaling, and Demo Schedule


I’ve uploaded a new video. The initial scenario in the demo will take place around a Neptune class planet (about 20 times the mass of Earth – approximate radius of 25,000 km) with an extensive ring system. The system star is now much closer to what it should look like – white (our sun is yellow to our eyes because of the atmosphere – it looks white in space) and with a smaller apparent size than we see from earth.

I’ve updated the HUD to give me more screen real estate – the indicators on the top left and right are live. Your suit HUD will show you remaining deltaV, maneuvering propellant (attitude thrusters), life support, and power remaining.

Most of my work over the last few weeks has been dealing with scale issues in Unity3d. Several other developers have written about this (Dave Newson, Sean O’Neil, etc). The basic problem is that Unity3d uses floating point variables for object placement and physics and that doesn’t give me enough accuracy to model a scene that could be 500,000 kilometers across or more, with scales that need to handle a person in a suit (2 meters) to a very large spaceship (500 meters) or asteroid (5 km) simultaneously.

What I’ve done is write my own basic extension to the Unity3d transform and rigidbody module that uses double precision variables. I’ve also incorporated some of Sean O’Neil’s ideas for handling the display of large distant objects (like planets) that are past the Unity3d camera far clipping plane (I’ll probably post a more detailed explanation of this with code on my product7 blog in the next few days). Units in Unity are arbitrary, in the demo I’m using one unit = 1 kilometer – so in render space the the demo the player camera starts about 40,000 kilometers from the planet within the first ring system. The demo and video have not been reconciled with realistic physics yet, the movement from thrusters is definitely overpowered at this point for example.

I do plan to release a very simple demo to the early access backers by the end of this month. The first public demo should follow a few weeks later. This demo will consist of a small part of the first chapter of TorchShips – beginning in your damaged suit with low remaining consumables, then your search for resources and a ship to captain…

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